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    October 8th, 2010

    Albacon: My schedule

    If you’re going to Albacon this weekend, here is my schedule:

    6 pm panel: Not a Vampire–Horror Beyond Bloodsuckers
    Forget vamps: we have zombies! Not to mention ghosts, Lovecraftian eldritch horrors, shape-shifters and more. (Town room)

    12 noon panel: Vampires–Sparkling or Bloody?
    Vampires: rotting corpses who feed on human vitality or dreamy sparkly beautiful mopey demi-gods? Discuss. (Squire room)

    1 pm signing (Dealers’ room) — And yes, there will be copies of HUNGER!

    5 pm reading (Albany room) — Definitely reading from HUNGER…and a sneak peek from RAGE.

    12 noon panel: Sex & Gender in Spec Fic
    Why are male characters still the default for so many writers? Does “strong female character” just mean she kicks ass? And what about sexuality other than F/M? (Squire room)

    9:07 am · Comments Off on Albacon: My schedule ·

    October 3rd, 2010


    Holy cats, it’s October. When did that happen?

    (Yes, smarty pants. I know it happened two days ago. Thank you.)

    Starting tomorrow, I’m full-steam ahead on promoting/buzzing HUNGER. Most of that will take place on my alterego’s blog, so I invite you to check back there regularly to see what blog tour I’m doing, or how little sleep I’m getting.

    So, updates:

    1. My alterego is giving away a signed copy of HUNGER. You should check out the JMK blog.

    2. I won’t be at NYCC, despite what my Appearances thingie says. Instead, I’ll be at Albacon. And because the local indie bookseller, Flights of Fantasy, already has copies of HUNGER, the book will be on sale there even though technically it’s before the pub date. Yay! So I’ll be signing copies.

    3. Oodles of Hell short stories will be hitting the shelves, including…

    “To Hell With Love,” The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2

    Want to know more about the witch Caitlin Harris, who turned the former demon Jezebel into her twin sister, Jesse Harris? Then this short story is for you. On sale in October 2010.

    “Where We Are Is Hell,” After Hours: Tales From the Ur-Bar

    Before he loved Jesse Harris, Paul Hamilton was engaged to a woman named Tracy Summers, who died in a hit and run. In this ghost story, Tracy must make a choice that could doom her immortal soul–or save it. On sale March 2011.

    ** [ARGH, the image for Those Who Fight Monsters is too big! Will resize and update]**

    “Hell Bound,” Those Who Fight Monsters

    The demon Jezebel is back in this pre-Hell’s Belles sexy urban fantasy story. (And so is Daun!) On sale March 2011.

    Stay tuned for more updates. Happy October!

    10:08 pm · Comments (2) ·

    September 19th, 2010

    Let’s Talk Promotion

    I recently did a two-part workshop at the Central New York Romance Writers (a terrific group, by the way — if anyone reading this is a romance writer and you live within easy driving distance of Liverpool, NY, you owe it to yourself to check out CNYRW). The first was all about querying agents: how to write a query letter, who to send it to, and what to do when you get a request (and an offer). I’ve written about what goes into a query letter before, along with the evil synopsis from hell. The second part of the workshop, though, was new. Brand, Baby, Brand was all about promoting your commercially published novel.

    The first question you’re probably asking is: Why do I have to do any promotion? Doesn’t my publisher take care of this for me? The answer is simple: Maybe.

    I’ve had three commercial book publishers so far — more, if you count novellas — and I’ve found that promotion and publicity from publishers (what I’ll call “in-house promotion”) varies. You may get tons of in-house support and get your ARCs (advance reader/review copies) distributed to top reviewers and handed out at key events. You may get an ad in a genre magazine. You may get co-op (the front tables in bookstores that proudly display new arrivals, cover out: this is called “co-op,” and your publisher pays for that privilege). You may get none of that.

    And there’s no way to know what you’re going to get.

    If you’re fortunate enough to be one of your publisher’s lead titles (you’ll know if you are; that’s not something you’re left guessing about), you’re going to get more in-house support than non-lead titles from the same publisher. In-house support is a Very Good Thing. But you can’t assume you’re going to get it — at all, let alone to the degree you may imagine. You have to remember that there’s only so much marketing money to go around, and in-house publicists have a boatload of authors on their plates.

    So the next question you’re probably asking is: Shouldn’t I hire someone to do promotion for me? I’m an author, not a marketer! And the answer is: You can, if you have the money. Because let me tell you, independent publicists cost a good chunk of change. The last time I did some pricing, it was to the tune of $5,000. Now, I know many authors who swear independent publicists are worth their weight in gold. So if you’re going to go this route, do your homework. Ask authors who they use, and if they recommend their publicist. Just like doing your research before you query agents, do your research before you agree to plunk down money on a publicist.

    Of course, you can choose to do nothing. You can focus solely on the writing. Just keep in mind that there are lots of books out there — plenty in bookstores, and an overwhelming amount available online. If you do nothing to promote your work, and you have no guarantee that your commercial publisher is going to promote your book the way you’d like to be promoted, how is your book going to stand out in the crowded marketplace? Believe me, family and friends can buy only so many copies. And if you don’t make your numbers, the chances of you getting another book deal goes down. Sometimes, dramatically.

    If I’m bursting any bubbles, I apologize. Actually, no, I’m lying. I want to burst bubbles. Go into this with your eyes wide open. Understand that while the act of writing is an art, publishing that writing is a business. Publishers want to make money, period. And unfortunately, more and more of the marketing is getting pushed to the authors, especially in today’s social networking world. I wish to God that publishers did everything in terms of marketing and promotion. But realistically, that’s just not how it is, not unless you’re very, very lucky.

    I’ve done everything from spend an obscene amount of money on swag to doing direct mail campaigns, all on my own dime. I’ve discovered things about branding, and what works more often than not (trial and error is a painful, if useful, tool). Most important, over the course of five years and six commercially published books, I’ve learned what the top four things all authors should do when it comes to promoting their work.

    Before we get there, a quick note about swag: You can do it, if you want. Some people really like having things to hand out to readers, booksellers, reviewers and librarians. What I’ve found works best:

    1. Business cards. This is a must. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good business card — or, if you prefer, calling card. It must include your name and contact information (website, email address, etc.). You may want it to include your latest novel’s title and ISBN. Especially when you go to conferences, you need to have these at the ready. Can also double as a bookmark.

    2. Pens. While these aren’t good for mailings (boy, do they bump up the postage), they are terrific leave behinds — say, at the post-office, or in restaurants when you sign a credit card slip. Order from a reputable place, lest you discover you have a carton of pens with dry ink.

    3. Buttons. I’m a fool for buttons. Always have been. Your mileage may vary, but especially if you’re writing YA, you may want to consider going this route.

    4. Books. By far the best swag possible is free copies of your books. Give away your author copies. Think of them as the free samples your local bakery does.

    Now all of these things cost money, and of course giving people swag is in no way a guarantee that those people are going to buy your book. That being said, these are tangible things you can hand out to people, and they may stand out more than the typical bookmark. Out of all the above, the only one I’d say is mandatory is the business card. The one that is the most effective is the free book.

    Real life swag example! For HUNGER, I created small posters of the front cover. These posters are sized to fit inside of a loose-leaf binder cover, or inside a locker room door. I’m giving them away to anyone who requests one, and I mail to anywhere in the world. Ditto the oval buttons I had created of the front cover. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a gorgeous cover, so I’m very happy to give out some swag that people can display. And Harcourt, my publisher, created postcards of the front cover, with a bit more about the book on the other side. I’m giving away everything until I’m tapped out.

    So, swag aside, what are the four things every author should do to promote his or her book?

    1. Have a website. If people want information about an author, they turn to Google. You don’t have to spend an outrageous amount of money on a website. But you do need to have it look professional. If you’re a blogger, then include a blog. If you don’t like blogging, that’s fine. Don’t have a blog that collects dust (she typed, noting that her last entry was a month ago). Have your book information on your website. And keep your website updated (she typed, noting she really has to update her website).

    2. Have a web presence. It’s not enough to have a website and hope that people are going to find you. It’s a socially networked world out there. Go visit it. Me, I love Twitter. There’s also Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and many other sites. There are writing-centric forums, like Absolute Write. There are group blogs, like the Deadline Dames and The League of Reluctant Adults, where you can comment on posts. Don’t be obnoxious and comment only to promote your upcoming book; comment on a post because it’s a post that interests you — this gets your name out there as well as your opinion, and you can have your name link to your website, if people want to learn more about you and your books.

    3. Have a local presence. Do you know your local indie booksellers, as well as your local chain stores and libraries? You should. Introduce yourself. Offer ARCs and business cards. (If you’re thinking about signings, maybe offer chocolate as well.) Have your one-sentence summary of your book ready to go, in case the person you’re talking to asks what your book is about.

    Along with this, strongly consider going to local and regional conventions in your genre. Get onto panels if you can; hang out at the bar and chat with other authors and editors even if you can’t get onto panels. Network, baby. I wrote a two-part comic set in the Buffyverse all because I was on the same panel as the editor, and after the panel I offered to send him copies of my books. No way would I have had the comic book opportunity if I hadn’t gone to the convention. Get out there. Get known. And give away copies of your ARCs and books.

    4. Write an even better next book. We’re in this because we’re writers. And the best thing you can do is keep writing.

    Remember: writing is art, but publishing is business. So if you want writing to be your business, you should strongly consider promoting that business. Because otherwise, you run the risk of going out of business.

    11:32 am · Comments (7) ·

    August 15th, 2010

    My DragonCon 2010 schedule

    Are you going to Dragon*Con 2010? If so, here’s where I’ll be from Friday 9/3 through Sunday 9/5:

    Title: Got Issues?
    Description: In this crazy world, young people have to grow up faster than ever. Let’s discuss some issues like anorexia, cutting, depression, and so on.
    Time: Fri 01:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

    Title: Surprise! You’re Dead
    Description: Death, ghosts, and the afterlife in fantasy fiction.
    Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Cairo – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

    Title: Growing Up Scared
    Description: Young adults in dark fantasy literature.
    Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Montreal / Vancouver – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

    Title: Dancing On The Head Of A Pin
    Description: The role of angels and divine messengers in modern fantasy and horror.
    Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: Montreal / Vancouver – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

    Hope to see you there!

    10:47 am · Comments (2) ·

    July 22nd, 2010

    SDCC 2010, Day 0

    Ah, Comic Con. Nothing like getting up at 4 am to catch a 6 am flight to go to an event that will have roughly 140,000 people attending. Yesterday was the Get There Early And Register Day, along with early dibs at the Exhibitors’ Hall. And much Goodness happened.

    1. Arrival. This year, I’m staying at the Omni Hotel with the lovely and talented Diana Rowland. I’m thrilled to report that A) the room is nice, with two double-sized beds — as opposed to one king-sized bed and B) neither The Creepy Doll nor her sister The Creepy Baby will be making an appearance. I think airport security had the Dolls removed and turned into glue.

    2. Food. Given that the last thing I’d eaten was a tuna sandwich at 6:30 am and now it was approximately 4 pm Eastern, I was hooongry. So Diana and I meandered and found a great Thai place that would have done well in an earthquake, given the extremely shaky table. Diana, clever thinker that she is, jammed one of her bookmarks at the bottom of the table and wedged it straight. If it were up to me, I just would have drank more and assumed I was the one tilting.

    3. Registration. If you’ve never been to Comic Con International, the registration line can be…well, impressive is certainly the right word. “Massive” doesn’t even come close. “Ginormous” is more on the mark. Tons of people, seriously. On the way, we bumped into Dr. Who writer Paul Cornell and his wife. Diana had an awesome fangirl moment. (That “OH MY GOD, IT’S PAUL CORNELL!!!” squeal you heard yesterday? That was Diana.) We also saw Pat Rothfuss, also doing the Waiting On Line thing. Soon, my Icarus Project co-author Caitlin Kittredge joined us, and we got all official and badged and bagged. (The freebie bags? Huuuuuuuuuge. You could fit a family of four inside, easily. In New York City, you’d get about $3,000 a month to rent one out as an apartment.)

    4. The Big Wait. What, you think we could just walk in and see things? Ha, I say. And hah, again! No entry until 6 pm, so we had some time to kill. The three of us went out for food and drinks (Caitlin ate; Diana and I drank), headed back to the Omni to hang for a bit, and then sat people-watching on the Convention Center steps. Waaaaaaaaaay off to the side of the steps, actually, because we got yelled at by CCI security for sitting on the steps. Apparently, the fire marshal would have bitten off our heads and slurped on the jettisoning blood from the stumps of our necks if we would have continued sitting, so we moved off to the side. We saw the amazing Jeanne Stein and her husband Phil, one unfortunate woman in a short flouncy skirt who should really have kept that skirt wrapped around her legs as she walked up the steps, and not one single Deadpool or Princess Leia Slave Girl costume. Saddened, we waited for the doors to open.

    5. Exhibitors Hall. Yay, 6 pm! In we went…and then I immediately broke away from Diana and Caitlin to start on my Get Stuff For The Tax Deductions quest. Purchases so far: limited-edition Star Wars Clone Wars cube buddies, and both regular- and limited-edition Domo figure thingies. Also scored two Pokemon cards. Will have to get MOAR THINGS today. As for me, I met the amazing Mark Waid and Peter Krausse, the writer and artist of Boom! Studios’ fantabulous IRREDEEMABLE series (and also Mark’s INCORRUPTABLE series), bought a special edition IRREDEEMABLE #15/INCORRUPTABLE #8 with companion covers — which MARK SIGNED — and also an awesome MARK WAID IS EVIL t-shirt. Sadly, my ability to speak coherently went the way of the dinosaur, and I gushed to Mark and Peter how I loved IRREDEEMABLE and…well, I’m afraid it was verbal spewing. But Mark and Peter were exceedingly gracious about it. I gave them a copy of BLACK AND WHITE and SHADES OF GRAY, because hey, superhero power. And then I floated away.

    Got to see Anton Strout, who was earning a buck at the Penguin booth, Anne Sowards and Jessica Wade (you authorly types know who they are), received a drive-by hug from MaryElizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy and a wave from her son Max, and finally found Rachel Caine and her husband Cat Conrad. Along the way, we also saw Publishers’ Weekly’s wonderful Barbara Vey (and hey, if you’re at Comic Con and you’re famous, please note that Barbara is looking for you) and Dianna Love, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (who, apparently, got arm-twisted into going to Comic Con — no worries, Dianna, I bet you’ll love it!).

    6. Dinner. Outside, we bumped into Kat Richardson, and there was a fun moment of Kat meeting Cat. (Come on, allow an author some naming fun!) Then Rachel, Cat, Kat, Anton, Diana and I went out for dinner. Please note: If you’re going to eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory, you may want to ask for the check first, then place your order, because MAN, the service was slow. Granted, about a bajillion people had descended onto San Diego, but still. (Ooh, speaking of a bajillion people, The Old Spice Man is rumored to be at SDCC. Will have to keep my eyes open for a bare-chested handsome man seated backward on a white horse.) Great conversation, decent food, and good people. Excellent way to spend an evening.

    Then it was back to the Omni, where Diana and I crashed early. (Hey, YOU be up at 4 am Eastern and stay up until 1 am Eastern, see how tired YOU are.)

    On today’s agenda: I want to go to the Boom! Studios Irredeemable/Incorruptible panel at 11 am (guess I’ll be wearing my MARK WAID IS EVIL t-shirt) and hopefully get a chance to not be all AHHHHHHHHHHILOVEYOURWORK in front of Mark and Peter. Then at 3 is the “Kiss Them Or Kill Them? Conflict Management for the Creatures Among Us” panel, with Leaguers J.F. Lewis, Kat Richardson, Diana Rowland and Anton Strout, as well as the fabulous Maria Lima, Adrian Phoenix, Samantha Sommersby and Rob Thurman — and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, who I’m sure is also fabulous but I’ve never met her — and moderated by MaryElizabeth Hart. Rah!

    After Diana’s panel and subsequent signing, we’ll head back to the hotel, get prettified, then go to a dinner party followed by the Random House party, and then…well, I guess we’ll have to see what happens next.

    More tomorrow! And hopefully, with pictures — today, my mission is to buy a new digital camera, damn it!!!

    10:09 am · Comments (3) ·


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